The Department of Defense began eliminating chemical weapons
today at Tooele, Utah.
Plant operations began at the chemical
agent disposal facility after a lengthy period of equipment
testing and training of its work force.
Harold P. Smith, the assistant to the secretary of defense
for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs emphasized
that the goal of these operations is to safely destroy the
chemical weapons stockpile, while providing maximum protection to
the public, the work force and the environment.
The Tooele facility is the first in the continental United
States that is designed solely for the purpose of destroying
A prototype destruction facility at Johnston
Atoll, in the Pacific Ocean, has been safely destroying chemical
weapons since 1990.
Start of operations at the Tooele chemical agent disposal
facility is a major milestone toward completely eliminating our
nation's stockpile of chemical weapons, said Gilbert F. Decker,
assistant secretary of the Army for research, development and
When the Tooele facility safely completes its
mission, nearly half our nation's chemical weapons will have been
Forty-four percent of the nation's stockpile, totaling more
than 13,000 agent tons, is stored at Tooele.
Both nerve and
blister agents are stored in quantities ranging from large bulk
containers to mines, rockets and artillery shells.
The U.S. Army, as the executive agent for the Department of
Defense, continues to work closely with state officials to
protect the interests of the local community regarding the
storage and safe destruction of these munitions.
requires that the Defense Department destroy the stockpile by
Destruction of the chemical weapons stored at Tooele is
expected to be completed by 2003.